Fitness in Warsaw

Although sightseeing of various cultural landmarks, in conjunction with quite extensive power-walking around some of the city’s main areas – which I consider as a fruiful cardio workout type, and fortunately my travel companion too – and Dionysian events, such as eating and drinking, dominated my stay in Warsaw (first time there), I still had time for some real workout in the hotel’s small and limited, yet decent gym. So the focus on training and nutrition is always there, although sometimes only partial.

And yes, I really like Warsaw in many regards. Overall it is relatively unexpensive – compared to Sweden it is often a third of the price – and the city is partly beautiful.

Fastän en stor del av min första vistelse i Warszawa utgjordes av sightseeing av diverse kulturella monument, och ganska omfattande powerwalking – som tack och lov även mitt resesällskap uppskattar – mellan dessa, samt diverse dionysiska inslag som mat och dryck, fanns det även tid för några träningspass i hotellets enkla och begränsade men ändå hyggliga gym. Så fokuset på diet och träning finns alltid där, även om det stundtals begränsas i viss utsträckning.

För övrigt gillar jag verkligen Warsawa i många avseenden. Exempelvis är det bitvis en vacker stad och priserna är överlag riktigt bra; ofta bara en tredjedel av de svenska.

저 하고 친고 같이 바르샤바 여행 갔을 데 면 빠른 걸어서 많이 문화 군데 관광 하고 여러 음식 먹고 음료 도 마셨어요. 그런데 제가 호텔의헬스 클럽 에서 좀 운동 을 했어요. 그래서 다이어트 하고 운동은 항상 생각 하고 있어요.

참 저는 바르샤바 여러 가지 방법으로 정말 좋아요. 예를 들면 값은 주로 비싸고 많이 중부지방 의 부분품들이 아름다어요.

Urban exploration as a means to personal development and fun

David Pinder, in his work ‘Arts of urban exploration’ (2005), is one of the researchers within the social sciences that has examined what is often known as urban exploration (often shortened as UE). He explains his particular viewpoint in the preamble of his article:

The catalyst of this event in May 2003 came from a Brooklyn-based artist collective called Toyshop. Numbering around 15 to 20 people mainly with a background in the arts, they have staged a number of street interventions and forms of direct action over the last few years. Centred on the street artist Swoon, the group / previously called Swoon Union or Swoon Squad / is concerned with public space and its democratization through what it calls ‘creative forms of productive mischief’. ‘[R]ooting around the edges of appropriate acts of citizenship’, its members say, ‘we are using every means at our disposal to make a city that instigates our creative impulses and fosters the feral spirit’. They describe how they work with the city ‘as muse and medium’. Criticizing the privatization of public space and the associated passivization of city dwellers, they state: ‘We are attempting to, through example, create a participatory model for citizens to take part in the physical and social structure of the environment we live in.’ Through street art and other interventions, its members seek to exploit opportunities for play and subversion as they interact with the city’s spaces. Swoon’s own art particularly involves the creation of life-sized figures on walls from delicate paper cut-outs, carved tape or woodblock prints. They often represent figures from her life or characters associated with particular places. They are an example of how work on streets can give people ‘a new, often transient set of landmarks with which to guide themselves’, and allow them ‘in a concrete way to see the manifestation of a certain kind of vitality in the city’.

Although urban exploration, in this sense, is partially historically linked to so called situationists, and thus often constitutes an active critique of the ‘privatization’ of the public sphere (Why am I, as a citizen, not allowed to go to, dwell or reside everywhere in public areas?), urban exploration is often associated with – as the name implies – the direct experience of cities, particularly abondoned buildings, tunnels (for instance transit tunnels and utility tunnels), sewers and other more or less inaccessible parts of its fragmented geography. The pioneers of UE were a group of youngsters who called themselves The Cave clan and who did their groundbreaking activities in Melbourne in Australia back in 1986.

Over the last three-four decades UE has gradually become a more established subculture, and people – often teenagers or young adults – visit new places where they make tags or leave other kinds of traces of their visits, take multible pictures with their cameras or cell phones and share them online (although this is of course not necessarily the case), and follow the customs that have been constructed in interplay with other, earlier, urban explorers. One such custom is to – once again – share photos online but seldom, and for obvious reasons, not reveal the identities of the explorers. And the fact that these communities resemble sort of a ‘secret society’ does certainly add to its appeal.

If one is interested in this phenomenon, there are tons of material online to look into, whether general articles and information, or UE communities as well as various YouTube videos (and there is actually a 86 minutes long documentary film, Urban exploration: Into the darkness (2007), dedicated to UE).

But to make a complex story short and cut to the chase, UE is – or, at least, may be – an excellent way to broaden one’s horizon of understanding the world and the environments that surround us but which are rarely explored. In conjunction with UE, a person may learn a lot about a particular part of a city’s history, and with this in mind, a rather broad age spectrum of its potential target group seems natural. Perhaps it is a constructive way to preserve one’s juvenile dimensions? A combination of facts and fun.


As a potential urban explorer, you may chose your local small town (or even the countryside, like a desolated house, church or castle, which thus instead makes into ‘rural exploration’!), Stockholm, London, New York, Paris or some other place as your point of departure – the main thing is that you, preferably, look after the special locations, somewhat hidden from the general routes where citizens tend to be allocated, and examine them, probably in tandem with a few friends.

And trust me, this might create collective memories that will last as long as you live. For instance, during the spring time of 2010, I and two friends made two intriguing explorations in Uppsala (where we all lived at that time) and Stockholm. Nothing ‘extreme’ and truly unique – to the extent to which that is relevant – but still interesting, inspiring and somewhat thrilling.

And the activities do not even have to be prohibited or illegal; sometimes it is just interesting to walk around, along a particular street or in a particular neighborhood (동네 in Korean), especially if you visit a city for the first (and perhaps also the last) time. I come to think of everything from Los Angeles, to Budapest, to Oslo, to Kuala Lumpur, to Busan, to New York city, when I associate this with many spontaneous city walks. It is stimulating, and sometimes even venterous (although all is relative), but nevertheless very often rewarding. But then it is not UE as it is generally understood, but rather a way to  experience or ‘interact with the urban environment’ in the sense that David Pinder discusses (but most likely without any political implications, since one is only there for a brief time).

Additionally, one might burn quite a massive amount of calories, and in a lot more interesting environments than in the gym or at the regular jogging route, while experiencing UE of some sort. But most importantly, it is a fun and interesting activity (재미있는 일 이에요).

Urban exploration (ofta förkortat som UE) är ett intressant fenomen som har en historia som sträcker sig från 1986 och en grupp ungdomar i Melbourne, Australien, och som successivt har utvecklats till en subkultur. Många har säkert hört talas om det eller testat på det själv (oavsett om de känner till termen eller inte).

I grunden handlar det om att utforska olika övergivna och mer eller mindre svårtillgängliga byggnader och andra typer av stadsmiljöer, till exempel tunnelbanesystem och mentalsjukhus. Man kan även tänka sig mer lantliga miljöer – gamla kyrkor, slott och övergivna hus – som ett slags rural motsvarighet till detta. Och det behöver inte vara en jättestor stad för att finnas intressanta, outforskade eller i alla fall mindre vanliga platser att uppsöka.

I dag finns det mängder av UE-forum där utövare delar bilder och diskuterar tips och erfarenheter, och på YouTube hittar man förstås mängder av videoklipp som berör fenomenet på ett eller annat sätt. Inom denna subkultur finns en hel del kutym, både vad gäller hur man helst bör bete sig på plats, och beträffande att inte avslöja identiteten på vare sig själv eller andra utövare. Det är en gemensam aktivitet som man företrädesvis gör tillsammans med några vänner och inte talar högt om, eller i alla fall inte är alltför specifik beträffande.

Jag har testat på UE- eller UE-liknande aktiviteter i Sverige, och i en bredare mening även i flertalet andra länder genom långa, spontana promenader i både respektive stadskärna och -periferi. Det är, eller har åtminstone potential till att vara, en utmärkt aktvitet som hjälper en att vidga sin förståelse av världen, och kan ge fantastiska minnen för livet att dela tillsammans med andra. Man kan också lära sig en hel del om städer och platsers historia, speciellt om man gör lite egen research innan, i samband med, eller efter vistelsen.

Tänk också på hur många kalorier det bränner att gå, huka, krypa, klättra och hoppa i flera timmar. Garanterat mer intressant kardioträning än att vara inne i ett gym, särskilt under vår- och sommarperioden. Bejaka barnasinnet på ett konstruktivt sätt. Vi ska alla dö förr eller senare och det finns all anledning att gå utanför sin egen comfort zone och göra något spännande och annorlunda.

Super cardio in Taiwan

As I earlier have said, I will every now and then write about some of the locations which I have visited before. This is another example.

During the summer (여름) of 2013, I went to Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan for a quite brief stay, slightly less than two weeks. Most of the vacation time was spent at the last-mentioned location, in which I had the capital Taipei as the point of departure, and then travelled, by train, south along the east coast, and then back again.

My short roundtrip lasted for just a week, but was nevertheless very rewarding. I had heard from a Singaporean girl that I met in Kyoto in Japan in 2009, that Taiwan is supposed to be a great place, and thus I had planned to go there someday. As I had understood it, Taiwan has about the same standard of living and quality of infrastructure as Japan and South Korea, although with a mixture of traditional Chinese and modern Western culture, and not the least a (sub)tropical climate, and lower price levels than both Japan and the less expensive South Korea (compared to both Japan and Sweden). It sounded promising indeed, and it was.

Nearby the quite famous tourist spot, Taroko National Park, I met a really interesting person from France. He partially reminded of myself, although a few years older and more well-experienced with regard to travelling and working overseas; he had previously lived in among other places Hong Kong and Singapore and was supposed to move to Canada a while later (and he did, of course, since he is a very a determined person who does not just talk but act). We decided to travel together for a couple of days, and we mostly followed his more or less pre-planned route, which partly overlapped my own ideas about where to go and what to do.

I will not dwell much on what we did and where we went, apart from our one-day excursion along the Walami trail (Wǎlāmǐ Gǔdào), which is located in the mid-eastern part of the main island, almost alongside the Tropic of cancer, where the northern demarcation line of the tropical zone stretches horizontally across the earth’s surface. This trail is a part of the larger Yushan National Park, although, of course, at a much lower height than the highest peak of Yushan.

This is largely a physique-oriented blog and there are actually some possible linkages between Formosa and fitness. Because what I and my French travel companion did was to get up around 6 a.m., rode with bicycles for 18 kilometers in 38 degrees Celsius (or about 100 Fahreinheit) – successively uphill – and then walked for at least 10 kilometers – (dis)continuously uphill – in the same sub(tropical) heat.

I think that we burned something like 7000-8000 calories during the whole excursion. Hence, I could eat a lot of snickers without any bad conscience.

One of the good things with these kinds of cardio-vascular activities is that they are so simple, just like to ride with bicycles and to hike in general tend to be. Of course, one needs a relatively good physique and overall health, but the activities in themselves are very easy to cope with and require few skills. It is more about steadfastness and character than expensive gear that one has to buy and/or rent, which is the case with regard to scuba diving or mountaineering. Just get-up-and-go.

And not the least, these may be, like in this case, combined with experiences of fantastic scenery. The Walami trail and its vicinity do offer some quite spectacular sights, and if you are lucky you could see some interesting wildlife too, such as Formosan rock macaque. I would advice almost any person who is able to to go there.

För ett par sedan år sedan bestämde jag mig för att åka till Taiwan. Jag hade blivit tipsad av en singaporiansk tjej, som jag träffade i Japan 2009, att åka dit, och hade därför haft det i åtanke under en längre tid. Sommaren 2013 blev det också av, och jag tog mig till denna del av Östasien på egen hand, i samband med att jag även besökte Hongkong och Macao.

Det var en ganska kort vistelse, strax under två veckor, men en väldigt givande sådan. Taiwan är precis så vackert och bra som jag hade hoppats på. Priserna är ungefär som i Malaysia och Indonesien, men infrastruktur och livskvalitet är kongruent med Japan och Sydkorea. Ett annat plus är att det finns en hel del autentisk kinesisk kultur som fortfortande är vid liv i detta land, som i alla fall kulturellt sett – politiskt och ekonomiskt är det lite en annan sak – är i hög grad särskilt från Kina. Man kan exempelvis besöka taoistiska tempel och helgedomar i centrala Taipei, till skillnad från Beijing som i kulturellt avseende mest utgörs av muséer.

Jag hade just huvudstaden Taipei som utgångspunkt och färdades sedan söderut längs med östkusten. På tåget, i närheten av den för landet välkända Taroko National Park, träffade jag en mycket intressant fransman som jag slog följde med. Vi hade liknande resplaner men följde i huvudsak hans idéer.

Ämnar inte beskriva exakt vad vi gjorde och vart vi åkte, men dock kort nämna vår exkursion till och längs med Walami trail (Wǎlāmǐ Gǔdào), som ligger på den central-östra delen av huvudön ungefär längs med Kräftans vändkrets, där gränsen för den tropiska klimatzonen är belägen. Det är en vandringsled i regnskogsaktig miljö, som också är en del av Yushan national park. Höjden är dock betydligt lägre än denna bergstopp.

Jag och min resekamrat gick upp tidigt en morgon – vi bodde på enkelt hotell i den lilla staden Yuli – och tog våra hyrda cyklar, och färdades med hjälp av dessa hela 18 kilometer, successivt uppåt, för att sedan påbörja en cirka milslång vandring längs med Walami trail. Allt detta skedde i ungefär 38 graders värme, och gissningsvis brände vi cirka 7000-8000 kalorier under denna cykel- och vandringsexkursion. Det blev bland annat ett svalkande bad och många snickers och flaskor vatten för att kompensera för hettan och intensiteten.

Det bästa med den här typen av intensiv och långvarig kardioträning är att den är så enkel, och dessutom billig när man väl är på plats; det kostar inte mycket att hyra cyklar för en dag och att genomföra detta handlar mest om karaktär och målmedvetenhet. Dessutom kan det kombineras med helt fantastisk natur och vackra omgivningar. Kan verkligen rekommendera Taiwan som resmål, och inte minst cykling till, och vandring längs, Walami trail.